Call for Short Term Scientific Missions

Call for Short Term Scientific Missions

This is a call for Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) within BigSkyEarth COST Action. Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) are exchange visits aimed at supporting individual mobility, strengthening existing networks and fostering collaboration between researchers. A STSM should specifically contribute to the scientific objectives of the COST Action, whilst at the same time allowing those partaking in the missions to learn new techniques, gain access to specific data, instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions/organisations.
STSM applicants must be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD Student or postdoctoral fellow or can be employed by, or affiliated to, an Institution or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. The institutions/organisations where applicants pursue their main strand of research are considered as Home institutions. The Host institution is the institution/organisation that will host the successful applicant.


With the current emergence of Terabyte(TB)- and very soon Petabyte(PB)-scale astronomical and Earth observation systems, the traditional approach to basic functions such as data searching, analytics or visualization are becoming increasingly difficult to handle. Simple database queries can result now in data subsets so large that they are incomprehensible, slow (or even impossible) to handle, and impossible to visualize with commodity visualization tools. Astronomy and remote sensing complement each other, as they are on the quest for new Big Data interpretation capabilities: both disciplines have peculiar data, typical data processing and analysis chains, and specific models to be fed with data. However, both disciplines lack the capabilities for easily accessible semantics-oriented browsing (usage of higher level descriptive expressions) in large data archives. Therefore, joint efforts to design and develop innovative Big Data tools should help users in many different fields and set new standards for many communities. This has identified several broad challenges to this line of reasoning that need multidisciplinary approach through international networking of experts and professionals. These challenges are then channelled into Action Objectives:
Challenge A: Digital curation and data access
Challenge B: New frontiers in visualization
Challenge C: Adaptation to new high performance computing (HPC) technologies
Challenge D: New generation of scientists in the age of interdisciplinarity
For more detail see the description of the Action in Memorandum of Understanding.

Eligibility Rules

The following table shows the scenarios available to eligible STSM applicants:

Home Institution Host Institution
From a Participating COST Country1 To another Participating COST Country
To an approved NNC institution
To an approved IPC2 institution3
To an approved Specific Organisation (EC and EU Agencies, European RTD Organisations, International Organisations)
From an approved NNC4 institution5 To a Participating COST Country
From an approved European RTD Organisation6 To a Participating COST Country
Rules of the call

The evaluation of STSM applications is performed by the STSM Committee.
The selection of successful STSM applicants considers the scientific scope of the proposed mission and how the mission can support the Action in achieving its scientific objectives. There will be special considerations with respect to supporting COST policies on promoting gender balance, enabling Early Career Investigators (ECI) and broadening geographical inclusiveness.

STSM must respect the following criteria:

  1. They must have a minimum duration of 5 days.
  2. They must have a maximum duration of 90 days.
  3. STSM need to be carried out in their entirety until the end of March 2018.

Specific additional provisions have been adopted by the CSO7 to encourage the participation of Early Career Investigators (ECI) in STSM. To qualify for these specific provisions, the following conditions apply:

  1. The mission must have a minimum duration of 91 days.
  2. The mission must have a maximum duration of 180 days.
  3. STSM performed by ECI need to be carried out in their entirety until the end of March 2018.

The COST Association and the Grant Holder of the Action cannot be considered as being an STSM Grantee’s employer. Grantees must make their own arrangements for all provisions related to personal security, health, taxation, social security and pension matters.

STSM Financial Support

An STSM grant is a fixed financial contribution which takes into consideration the budget request of the applicant and the outcome of the evaluation of the STSM application as determined by the Action Chair (or Vice Chair if the Action Chair is affiliated to the Grant Holder Institution) and/or the STSM Coordinator /Committee. STSM Grants do not necessarily cover all expenses related to performing a given mission. The Grant is a contribution to the overall travel, accommodation and meal expenses of the Grantee.

NEW: STSM applicants from ITC countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, fYR Macedonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia) can request an advance payment of 50% of the grant on the first day of their STSM. The host institution must send an email to the Grant Holder confirming the initiation of the STSM such that the Grant Holder shall transfer the requested amount of 50% of the grant.

The financial contribution for each STSM is:

  1. up to a maximum of EUR 160 per day can be afforded for accommodation and meal expenses, but
  2. up to a maximum of EUR 2000 in total can be afforded to each successful STSM applicant.
  • Is the workplan aligned with the relevant technical/scientific fields of the Action, as defined in the MoU? (see description of BigSkyEarth above)
  • Is the CV of the candidate relevant for the workplan?
  • Is there added-value for the STSM applicant?
  • Is there added-value for the host institution/research group in the proposed STSM?
  • Does the workplan have potential for further coordinated scientific activities and relevant results beyond the period of the STSM (e.g., joint research work, publications, PhD supervision, project proposals, etc)?
How to Apply
  1. Obtain the written agreement of the host institution, before submitting an application.
  2. Complete the online application form HERE.
  3. Send the completed online application form as e-mail attachment together with the following necessary supporting documents:
  • short CV (max 1 page)
  • list of publications
  • motivation letter (max 1 page)
  • letter of support from the host institution
  • full work plan (max 2 pages)


  • the future Host of the STSM
  • the STSM Coordinator : uros.kostic @
  1. The MC8 Chair informs the applicant about the evaluation results after 2 to 4 weeks. If the STSM is approved, the MC Chair informs the Grant Holder. The Grant Holder sends a grant letter generated from e-COST to the applicant.
  2. The scanned copy of signed Grant Letter must be returned by e-mail within 3 weeks to the Grant Holder: eCOSTAdmin @

There are no deadlines for applications – applications can be submitted at any time!

After the STSM

The grantee is required to submit a scientific report (3-5 pages) to the host institution, MC Chair, and the STSM Coordinator for approval within 30 days after the end date of the STSM containing:

  1. Purpose of the STSM;
  2. Description of the work carried out during the STSM;
  3. Description of the main results obtained;
  4. Future collaboration with the host institution (if applicable);
  5. Foreseen publications/articles resulting from the STSM (if applicable);
  6. Confirmation by the host institution of the successful execution of the STSM;
  7. Other comments (if any).

The grantee will receive a reminder from the STSM Coordinator to submit the scientific report. The failure to submit the scientific report within 30 days will effectively cancel the grant.

The STSM Coordinator is responsible for approving the scientific report and informing the MC Chair and the Grant Holder that the STSM has been successfully accomplished.

After receipt of the approval by email, the Grant Holder will execute the payment of the grant as a lump sum contribution towards the expenses incurred.

1) COST Member Countries and/or Cooperating State that have accepted the BigSkyEarth COST Action’s MoU — check the list HERE.
2) All those countries that are neither COST Member Countries / Cooperating State nor are they COST NNC.
3) An institution located in an IPC whose participation in an Action has been approved in accordance with the COST rules governing International Cooperation.
4) Near Neighbour Countries approved by the CSO to benefit from dedicated support for the integration of their researchers in COST activities — check the list HERE.
5) An institution located in a NNC whose participation in an Action has been approved in accordance with the relevant COST rules.
6) Any intergovernmental scientific research organisation that is responsible for infrastructures and laboratories whose members are countries, and the majority of which are COST Member Countries or Cooperating State.
7) The main decision-making body of COST, responsible for the strategic development of COST. It formally approves new Actions following the conclusion of each Open Call procedure. Each COST Member Country can appoint up to two representatives to the CSO.
8) A group of researchers, engineers or scholars representing COST Member Countries and / or the COST Cooperating State that have accepted the MoU. They are in charge of the coordination, implementation, and management of an Action’s activities as well as supervising the appropriate allocation and use of the COST funding with a view to achieving the Action’s scientific and technological objectives. They are nominated by the COST National Coordinators.